By Elvis Eromosele
Lagosians woke up to the news of another gas plant explosion; this time is Baruwa, a suburb in a densely populated neighbourhood in Alimosho area of the state. So far, eight persons have been confirmed dead with tens of others injured.
Reports already indicate that at least 89 shops, 47 buildings including a primary school and church as well as 23 electric poles, two transformers, gas tankers, one tricycle and a motorcycle were ravaged in the explosion. It is disheartening.
Every sort of reason has been advanced for the accident. But the reality is that this incidence is one too many. It is grossly unacceptable. It must stop.
The spate of cooking gas incidents in Lagos is becoming alarming. Three gas plant explosions in the space of five weeks are not right at all. It is abhorrent.
Yes, everyone agrees that the use of cooking gas is a good way to do. It is clean and progressive. Experts have said that it is a good way to curb deforestation, reduce wood-burning and curtail the effects of climate change.
Be that as it may, it is becoming clearer that not everyone should be selling cooking gas. While the increasing number of cooking gas sales outlets in residential areas have a cause for concern, the number of explosions and incidence involving gas plants in residential areas is making every righting person question the wisdom. It doesn’t appear to make sense right now.
So many questions demand answers. What sort of regulation exists to guide the setting up of gas plants? How many itinerary cooking gas sales outlets have the appropriate safety measures in place? What sort of training do workers in these outlets undergo? Who regulates these outlets?
Do they have any sort of insurance? Who is responsible for incidences like the one that just occurred in Baruwa? Who pays for the damages? Who compensates the victims?
It is beyond debate; something must be done and urgently. Otherwise, the population may well be waiting for their turn in the gas burner. This is no way to live.
The real problem is that Nigerians have a knack for me-too business. Whenever people think that there is easy money to be made in a business venture, especially those with low entry barrier, everyone jumps on the bandwagon. From pure water production to cybercafes, while it lasted; fast-food eateries, and now cooking gas sales outlets.
This is the dangerous part; many gas plant operators have little or no training or knowledge on how to run such a business.
First, gas is highly flammable. So, the watchword should be safety- first, last and always. Safety measures should be put in place. Staff should be taught how to handle the process safely every time.
Besides, appropriate caution signage and direction signs should be placed visible and conspicuously around the facilities.
Plus, someone and some agency must monitor to ensure that strict safety standards are set and fully adhered to.
Also, importantly, every gas plant must have a direct line to the closest fire service.
I understand why it is necessary to site some plants near the customers. But it should not be to the detriment to the health and safety of those same customers.
Gas plants anywhere need to maintain stringent safety conditions. Gas plants in residential locations are doubly risky because of the sheer population that can be hurt when something goes wrong.
Yes, the firms must have fire extinguishers, clearly spelt out emergency procedures, conduct drills regularly to keep the staff sharp and alert. But it is never enough. They must be closely monitored and inspected.
Multiple reports indicate that a power generating set may have caused the spark that led to the explosion in Baruwa. It is a safety failure. This must stop.
The Lagos State government cannot send the usual platitude this time around. It must act. It must now put measures in place to prevent a reoccurrence. The government must put the right foot forward.
Someone says that progress comes with risk. True. But everything possible must be done to mitigate it and thus ensure sustainability.
It is time to put a CAP on gas explosions in Lagos State.
Elvis Eromosele, a Corporate Communication professional and public affairs analyst lives in Lagos.